Eric Stewart: Running Off At The Mouth

Air Travel

by Eric Stewart on May.16, 2014, under Life

There was a time when I was boarding planes at least once a year to make my way to some exotic locale and do some diving.  So, while I’m not saying I’m an expert, I did learn a thing or two.  As I get ready to fly soon to Cisco Live, I have a thing or two to say about it.

Everyone seems to gripe about the lines at security checkpoints.  Yes, they’re a pain, and when you have a couple of hundred (or more) people all trying to get through the same two or three choke points, it can introduce some significant delay.  The thing is, though, that it would go a lot smoother if people would just plan ahead.  You can’t all be noobs at this … you have to know what’s expected.  As such, there are some things you can do to make the time you spend getting yourself and your crap scanned go a hell of a lot faster, thereby wasting less time for everyone who’s behind you:

  1. Dress with some forethought: try not to wear clothes that have a lot of metal in them.  In fact, if you can keep your pants up without wearing a belt, that there is a winning pair of pants!
  2. They make you put a fair amount of crap you have on you into a little tray.  Perhaps if you realized this was coming, you could prepare yourself in such a way to where you didn’t have to waste the time at the scanners pulling this crap off of you or out of your pockets.  It might be safely stowed in, say, your carry-on.  For example, here’s a list (by no means exhaustive, but what you should consider at a minimum) of things you could put in your backpack before even approaching the security checkpoint:
    1. Cell phone.  Come on, people.  End the call and tuck that thing away at least for a few minutes.
      • Exception: Electronic tickets/boarding passes.  You might need to show someone.
    2. Keys.  Once your car is locked and you’re in the airport, you won’t need the damn things again until you’ve returned.
    3. Loose change.  I mean, seriously.  Even your cash … you might want to tuck that away too.
    4. Wallet.  Lord knows what might be in that that could set off the metal detectors, but usually, by the time you hit security, you won’t need it.  Besides, your carry-on should have a pocket of some sort where you can get it if you need it.
  3. If they’re still making people take their shoes off, do it while you’re in line, well before it’s your turn.  Ideally, use something that is easy to take off and put back on, if possible.
  4. You should know by now that there are certain limitations on what you can bring aboard.  As for the geek crowd, as much as you might want to bring your multitool on the plane, they usually contain knives that the TSA will repossess if you attempt to board a plane with it.  And of course there’s the whole fluid thing.
  5. It’s probably a good idea, even for domestic flights, to give yourself well more than an hour to go from airport arrival to boarding your plane.  A majority of the other people are probably going to plan for an hour or less, and flights often take off around the same time, so an hour before a flight, there’s usually flood of people trying to get through security.  Plan around them: come a little earlier, because that hour you’ve planned for may just be spent waiting in line for people to pull their shoes off and go through the scanner three or four times because they keep forgetting to take their watch off, or keys out of their pockets …

I can’t stress this enough – the thing that raises my hackles is not the security checkpoint or the people running it (well, not usually).  It’s the other people in line that, through lack of forethought, end up wasting my time.  Don’t waste everyone else’s time.

Essentially, when you approach the scanners, the only things you have on are the clothes on your back and your boarding pass in your hand.

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